One of the lesser known facets of Rabindranath Tagore was his enthusiasm for food and his taste for fish. Starting May 9 which is the poet’s birthday, the Mamata Banerjee government is organising a three-day fish fest on the outskirts of Kolkata where people can savour exotic fish items that was a favourite of the bard.
West Bengal Fisheries Development Corporation (WBFDC) that functions under the state fisheries department, is organising the festival at Nalban Food Park named ‘Janmadiner Khaowadawa’ (Birthday Feast) located in Salt Lake.
Scouring books on recipes of the Tagore family, the authorities have zeroed in on several items that were not only considered exotic when Tagore was alive, but is also equally rare now. ‘Amish O Niramish Randhan (Non-vegetarian and Vegetarian Food)’ by Prajnasundari Devi, a niece of Rabindranath Tagore, published in 1900, was one of the books consulted by the authorities.
Experts point out that like his literature, Tagore also experimented with food. He often returned from invitations with the recipe of what he liked. He would also encourage domestic cooks to innovate, and the kitchen would also become a nursery of creativity.
The manner of serving the food will also be a throwback to the early decades of last century, the authorities promise. The items will be served in clay utensils crafted in the shape of yesteryears.
Each item will be priced between Rs 60 and Rs 100.
“So far we have all celebrated Tagore’s birthday through soirees, recitation, dance drama and even discussions. But he was a connoisseur of food. We have collected information about his favourite recipes from researchers and this is an attempt to broadbase the celebrations among the common people,” said fisheries minister Chandranath Sinha.
The minister also said that WBFDC has tied up with a few restaurants of the city who are helping in the cooking.
Besides fish, Tagore was also fond of kebabs.
Some of the items that will be on offer are jackfruit fish (carp with jackfruit), spicy boal fish, pulao sprinkled with fish cubes, soured mourola fish and puti fish, shoal fish with green mango, fried chapila fish, prawns in poppy seed-and-onion paste and prawns in methi leaves.